Community transmission of COVID-19 is well established say experts
New Delhi, June 01: The associations of epidemiologists, public health practitioners and social medicine have issued a joint statement saying that the community transmission of COVID-19 is well established across large sections or sub-populations in the country.
The draconian lockdown was presumably in response to a modelling exercise from an influential institution which presented a worst case simulation, which was shown to be way off the mark by subsequent events.
Had the government of India consulted epidemiologists who had better grasp of disease transmission dynamic compared to modellers, it would have perhaps been better served, the statement read.
From limited information available in public domain, it seems that the government was primarily advised by clinicians and academic epidemiologists with limited field training and skills, the statement further noted.
India is paying a heavy price both in terms of humanitarian crisis and disease spread because of the policy makers having relied overwhelmingly on general administrative bureaucrats, instead of engaging with expert technocrats in the area of epidemiology, public health, preventive medicine and social science.
The statement by the three associations - the Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM) and Indian Association of Epidemiologists said that open and transparent data sharing with scientists, public health professionals and the public was conspicuous by its absence till data and this ought to be ensured at the earliest.
The association also recombined that treatment of most cases be done at home instead of hospitals. Further, it noted that if the migrants had been allowed to go home at the beginning of the pandemic when the spread was low, the current situation of returning migrants taking the infection to each and every corner of the country could have been avoided.
The association said that the migrants were returning to rural and peri-urban areas, in districts with relatively weak public health systems and lacking in facilities for clinical care. Further, the association also said that the lockdown cannot be enforced indefinitely as the deaths attributable to the lockdown, primarily because of shutting of routine health services and disruption of the livelihood of the entire bottom half of the population, may overtake livers sacred due to slowing of COVID-19 progression.
The association further recommended cluster restrictions, scaling up of diagnostic facilities to test, trace and isolate, sentinel and active surveillance to identify hot spots or clustering, avoiding social stigma and protective gear for the health workers.